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Missouri Only State Without Prescription Drug Database

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri is the only state that does not currently keep a prescription drug database, which would be used to track prescription drug use.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri is the only state that does not currently keep a prescription drug database, which would be used to track prescription drug use.

The debate about such a database resurfaced Monday through an article in the New York Times.

Several bills have been written to establish a database in recent years, but they've been defeated because of privacy concerns.

"Since we are the only state in the union that doesn't have it, that encourages other people from surrounding states to come in with scripts," former President of Missouri State Medical Association Dr. Jim Wolfe, MD said. "As a primary physician it would be easier to check to make sure your patient wasn't getting additional drugs from other physicians."

Since the Centers for Disease Control says more deaths are caused by prescription drug abuse than illegal drug use each year, the prospect of a database has had the attention of doctors and law enforcement alike for years. Some say though, it goes beyond the law.

"It's not always looking for criminal activity, it's just looking for misuse -- which may or may not be criminal." Mercy Hospital Pharmacy Specialist Terry Banks said. "Many of these people would welcome intervention."

Pharmacists like Banks would keep track of the database. He says it would likely amount to a few extra keystrokes for each prescription. Doctors would then have access to it, to avoid over-prescribing and to look for any red-flags.

Some lawmakers say a database would amount to government overreach that would invade personal privacy.  Wolfe said the need for security isn't lost on on the medical community.

"It is absolutely of paramount importance that when we get the bill passed, we have a robust means of securing that data because if it's not secure and patients aren't secure in that knowledge, they will do everything they can to avoid it," Wolfe said.

More than 22,000 people die annually from overdoses of prescription medicines and the National Safety Council ranks Missouri seventh for the highest drug overdose mortality.

To read the full New York Times article mentioned in this story, visit nytimes.com.
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